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May 7, 2021, 4:37 a.m. EDT

Barclays activist investor sells entire stake

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By Simon Clark

LONDON -- Edward Bramson's Sherborne Investors said it sold its entire stake in Barclays PLC, giving up on a yearslong activist campaign to restructure the bank.

Sherborne, which seeks to influence the strategy of companies it owns shares in, was one of the bank's biggest shareholders with a 6% stake before the sale. Mr. Bramson unsuccessfully attempted to join the board of Barclays and petitioned its chief executive, American banker Jes Staley, to scale back investment-banking operations in favor of investing more in its U.K. retail bank.

Sherborne began amassing shares in Barclays in 2018, when the lender's shares traded around GBP2. Sherborne said it sold its Barclays shares at an average price of GBP1.86. The bank's shares rose more than 1% to GBP1.80 in early trading in London on Friday. They have gained 70% in the past 12 months, following a swoon during the pandemic selloff a year ago.

"It is a pity that the opportunity did not arise to join the board of Barclays to assist in a turnaround," Sherborne said in a statement.

A Barclays spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Staley opposed Mr. Bramson's recommendations. He kept a large investment-banking operation, which proved to be a strong source of profits during the pandemic.

Sherborne said it had begun building a position in another unidentified company.

"We think that the new investment will produce better returns and has a clearer prospect of our becoming engaged in an operating turnaround, which is the primary contributor to Sherborne Investors' investment returns," the company said in a statement.

In the first quarter, Barclays ranked seventh among global investment banks in terms of revenue, one place behind Credit Suisse Group AG, the highest-ranked European bank, according to Dealogic.

Write to Simon Clark at simon.clark@wsj.com

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